February 23, 2021

Our RecipeOfTheWeek is Donna Franca's Crapiata Materana!

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• 1/2 cup dried farro
• 1/2 cup dried wheat berries
• 1/2 cup dried fava beans
• 1/2 cup dried chickpeas*
• 1/2 cup dried cannellini beans
• 1/2 cup dried scarlet runner beans (or choose a favorite dried bean of your choice)
• 1/2 pound potato, peeled and diced
• 1 large onion, diced
• 3 carrots, diced
• 2 celery stalks, diced
• 1 cup dry red wine
• 2 links Italian sausage
• Sea salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Olive oil

Soak all beans for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse before using.
Pre-cook sausage removing casings and breaking up into small pieces. Set aside.
In a large pot, place all pre-soaked beans and enough water to cover the beans by at least an inch or two. Add wine.
Season with salt and bring beans to a simmer on low heat. Cook until tender - about 2 hours.
Add sausage, potatoes, onions, carrots and celery and continue to cook until all ingredients are cooked through - for about 1-2 more hours.
Season soup with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with olive oil at room temperature or hot off the stove.


February 8, 2021

Our Recipe of the week is Donna Franca’s Carnival Frittelle!

Carnevale is all about excess — it’s time to dress up in costume, throw coriandoli (confetti) in the air, and indulge in sweets of all sorts! For those who aren’t familiar with these typical Carnevale sweet confections, frittelle come in a round shape and they’re typically fried. Here are our frittelle! They’re soft and  relatively easy to make. I dare you to have just one.

• 5.3 oz (150 g) raisins
• 3 medium eggs
• 5.3 oz (150 g) granulated sugar (+ more for final dusting)
• 1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
• ¼ cup (60 ml) grappa (or rum)
• 3.5 g (half packet) active dry yeast
• 2 big apples, grated
• a generous pinch of salt
• the zest of 1 big orange
• 17.6 oz (500 g) flour, sifted
• peanut oil

Soak raisins in water for about 20 minutes. Then, let them drain in a colander and lightly dust them with flour.
Lightly beat eggs inside a bowl. Add sugar and mix well.
Add milk and grappa (or rum). Add yeast and let it dissolve in the liquid mixture.
Add grated apples, orange zest, and salt. Gradually add sifted flour and mix well. Cover and let it rest for an hour.
Add lightly floured raisins to the mixture and stir to distribute them evenly in the batter.
Heat peanut oil in a medium steel pot. The temperature of the oil should be between 160°-170°C (320°-340° F). Using your finger, release a spoonful of batter into the oil (be careful not to burn yourself!). Repeat. Cook frittelle in small batches and do not overcrowd the pan.
Rotate frittelle often to ensure even cooking. When they have reached a brown/golden color and they're completely cooked through, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl lined with paper towels to absorb the oil in excess. Sprinkle granulated sugar on them while they're still hot.

Buon Appetito!

It’s Carnival Time in Italy!

January 25, 2021

Italians are very creative in finding ways to savor “La Dolce Vita” even during the middle of winter.  To keep their spirits up, Carnival is celebrated throughout the peninsula.   The most famous Carnival is in the Serene Republic, Venice, from January 30th to February 16th.  Revelers adorn elaborate costumes and colorful hand crafted masks.   The celebrants pose and during normal times dance in the streets and Campi.   Palaces would host banquets and balls.
Further south on the Island of Sicily, just outside of Catania, the Carnival of Acireale which takes place from January 30th to February 16th.  Just imagine a huge party that lasts a week with colorful parades of masked participants and huge floats! The aromatic atmosphere created by the figures and statues made of lemons and oranges will definitely boost your imagination even more.

One of the oldest Carnival celebrations in Europe, now in its 627th edition, will take place in Putignano, a town outside of Bari from Feb. 7th to 27th.  The Putignano Carnival host parades with floats through the streets, and revelers adorn local traditional “Farinella” masks which resemble clown faces.  The Farinella is also a local culinary delicacy made from chick pea flour.   The festivities end with a bang, a big “Pentolaccia“ which  the Italian version of piñatas, however originally these were made from terracotta, not Papier Mache!

On Sicily’s western shore, the Carnival of Sciacca is the island’s most important celebration, taking place from Feb. 11th to 16th.  Originally, the first celebrations were a popular event, in which masked people would stroll through the streets.  From the 1920’s orchestras and actors who recited in local dialect became one of the Carnival’s attractions. Then on Fat Tuesday the symbolic handover of the keys of the city to the King of Carnivale Peppe Nappa, the local mask that opens and closes the event.  For the whole duration of Carnival, Peppe Nappa’s cart parades along the streets of the city, distributing beverages and grilled sausages to the revelers.  On the evening of Shrove Thursday, at the end of the Carnival, the Peppe Nappa cart is set on fire.

In Satriano di Lucania, Basilicata, Carnival is celebrated with a different twist!  The Satriano Carnival will take place on Feb. 13th and 14th.  This village is located in the Lucano Apennines National Park.  “The Walking Forest” is a unique event where men dress up like trees: these men, called Rumita (from the word ‘hermit’), are completely covered in ivy leaves and wear a walking stick with a branch of butcher’s broom (called frùscio) at the top.
On Saturday there is also a wedding celebration with role reversals, where men dress up as women and vice-versa.  On Sunday, the Rumìtas, dressed as trees, leave the forest and arrive in the village. While they wander the streets, they knock on people’s houses with the frùscio.  According to tradition, this ceremony brings luck and Rumitas receive, in exchange, food and gifts.  The Walking Forest is composed by 131 walking trees, which represent the 131 towns of Basilicata!

So let’s plan ahead for a unique celebration of life, call or email us to arrange your personalized Carnival Getaway!


January 25, 2021

Our #RecipeOfTheWeek is Donna Franca's Portuguese Egg Tarts
If you've ever been to Portugal, you know that one of the greatest pastries to binge-eat there is the Portuguese egg tart: its crisp, flaky crust holding a creamy custard center, blistered on top from the high heat of an oven.!

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• 1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
• 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
• ⅔ cup water
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• ⅔ cup water
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 cup, plus 6 tablespoons, whole milk, divided
• ½ cup all-purpose flour
• 6 egg yolks
• Ground cinnamon, for garnish

Make the puff pastry: In a small bowl, whisk the butter until it is the consistency of sour cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, water and salt. Mix on low speed,  scraping the bowl down occasionally, until the mixture comes together and has a tacky consistency. Transfer to a well-floured work surface and form into a 1-inch rectangle. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a ½-inch-thick rectangle, 10 inches long. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap and roll the dough into a 15-inch square, dusting with more flour as needed. Spread a third of the butter on the bottom half of the dough, leaving a 1-inch rim. Using a bench scraper, fold the top half of the dough over the butter. Press the edges to seal and pat the dough with the rolling pin. Roll the dough into another 15-inch square. Spread half of the remaining butter on the bottom half of the dough, leaving a 1-inch rim. Using the bench scraper, fold the top half of the dough over the butter. Press the edges to seal. Pat the dough with the rolling pin and rotate the dough so that the seam is facing you. Now, roll into an 18-inch square.
Spread the remaining butter all over the dough, leaving a 1-inch rim. Starting with the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a tight log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 500°. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water and cinnamon stick over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and let sit until ready to use.
On a lightly floured surface, trim the ends of the dough to make sure they're even, then cut the log into thirty ½-inch slices. Place each slice into the cavity of an egg tart mold or muffin tin, with the cut side of the spiral facing up. Use your thumb to press the center of the spiral into the bottom of the pan and continue pressing to evenly flatten the dough against the bottom and sides of the cavity, extending about 1⁄16 inch above the rim of the tart molds or ¾ inch up the sides of the muffin tin. Repeat with the remaining dough. Refrigerate until firm, 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat 1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, of the milk over medium heat until bubbles begin to form around the edges, 4 to 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the remaining 5 tablespoons of milk. Continue whisking while adding the hot milk in a slow, steady stream. Discard the cinnamon stick from the sugar syrup and whisk the syrup into the milk mixture in a steady stream. Return to the saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the yolks to the mixture and whisk until well combined, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Pour 1½ tablespoons of the warm filling into each pastry shells.
Bake until the shells are golden brown and crisp, the custards are set, and the tops are blackened in spots, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Then, remove the molds, transfer the tarts to the wire racks and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve warm.

Buon Appetito!


January 13, 2021

Our RecipeOfTheWeek is Donna Franca's Arancini!
Arancini are Italian snacks consisting of a ball of rice coated with bread crumbs and then deep fried—a staple of Sicilian cuisine. The most common fillings are: al ragù or al sugo, filled with ragù (meat or mince, slow-cooked at low temperature with tomato sauce and spices), mozzarella, and often peas and butter, filled with ham and mozzarella or besciamella.
A number of regional variants exist which differ in fillings and shape. Arancini al ragù produced in eastern Sicily have a conical shape inspired by the volcano Etna

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• 3 cups Rice
• 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
• 1 cup mozzarella
• 3 eggs 1 for rice mixture and 2 beaten for coating the rice balls
• 1/8 tsp salt
• dash pepper
• 1/2 tsp oregano
• 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
• 2 cups oil for frying
• marinara sauce for dipping

Prepare the Rice according to package directions. When the rice is ready, allow it to cool and then put it in a large bowl and stir in 1 egg, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, dash of pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Use your hands to form into small balls.
Beat two eggs in a bowl and dip the formed rice balls in the egg.  Roll the rice balls around in the bread crumbs until they are completely covered.
Place the oil in a pan so that when the arancini are added, the oil will cover or nearly cover them. Heat oil until it is 350 degrees. Using a slotted spoon, drop in balls in batches of four until they are cooked through and the outside has turned a deep golden brown.
Remove the arancini balls from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. If you'd like, you can warm up some marinara sauce for dipping and serve the sauce with the rice balls.

Buon Appetito!

HOMEMADE RECIPES: Torta al Testo (Crescia)

December 29, 2020

Our RecipeOfTheWeek is Donna Franca's Torta al Testo (Crescia)!

Torta al testo, also known as crescia, is a traditional unleavened bread hailing from the heart of Umbria, in central Italy. Its origins date back to the Roman Empire, when these round flatbreads were cooked on large brick disc called testum. These days, the name testo refers to the cast iron pan on which the torta ––a word otherwise associated with ‘cake’–– is traditionally cooked.
Lacking a testo (or similar pan), the next best thing on which to cook this torta is a pizza stone. In a hot oven, the torta is ready in a matter of minutes and with very little hassle. Truly, it couldn’t be easier to make.
Torta al testo is best enjoyed freshly made, as a snack or antipasto, alongside your favourite cured meats and cheese. Pecorino and prosciutto di norcia are natural pairings.
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• 500g of plain flour
• 1 pinch of sea salt
• 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 20ml of extra virgin olive oil
• 250ml of water, lukewarm

In a large bowl or in a stand mixer, stir together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the oil and water and knead until you have a smooth and elastic ball of dough. Cover it with a tea towel and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Place a pizza stone inside to heat up, too. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Dust your work surface with flour and, using a rolling pin, roll out the first piece into a thin disc. Pierce the entire surface with a fork to avoid it puffing up while cooking.
Carefully lay the disc on the hot stone (use the rolling pin to help with this operation) and bake for 8–10 minutes. Remove the torta from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Serve warm or at room temperature, with cured meats and cheese
Buon Appetito!


December 15, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is Donna Franca's Strudel!

You may not think of strudel as a classic Italian dish: The name strudel isn't even Italian, but rather German. This is what makes regional Italian cuisine so interesting. The country's geography – its borders, its landscape - factors into the character and traditions of each region.

Apple Strudel - a dessert of apples, pine nuts, and raisins or currants rolled up in paper-thin pastry - is the defining dish of Italy's Trentino-Alto Adige region. This autonomous province borders Austria to the north and is squeezed between the Veneto and Lombardy regions to the south. Knowing this - and that the region was part of Austria until after the first World War - helps explain why this Austrian favorite is also beloved in Italy. 

In northern Italy, such as the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions, you can find strudel in various forms. But the Trentino way is very much like what you find in Vienna: a thin, somewhat-flaky, and crisp pastry that gives way to something soft when eaten at room tempearture a few hours after baking.

Despite the look, this is actually a rather simple dessert to prepare and won't take nearly as long as you might think.

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  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted(55g)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (200g)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup water, lukewarm (80ml)


  • 1/3 cup golden raisins, 50g
  • 2 Tbsp rum
  • 4 medium apples
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, (100g)
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, finely chopped (30g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (90g)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, (30g)



In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine melted butter, flour, salt, and lukewarm water. Mix at medium speed about 1 minute until a smooth and elastic dough forms.
In a small saucepan (with a lid) bring water to a boil then remove the pot from the heat, empty the pot and dry it with a dish towel. Line the pot with a sheet of parchment paper, put the dough into the pot and put the lid on. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine raisins and rum. Let sit for 30 minutes. Then discard the rum.
Peel, core, and cut the apples into small stripes (batonnets, see image above). Combine apples with lemon juice. Add cinnamon, sugar, raisins, almonds, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
Lay a thin kitchen towel preferably with a pattern flat on the counter. Sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out as thin as you can. Brush it with a little bit of melted butter.
Then use your hands to carefully stretch it until it is about 18x12 inches (45x30 cm) big and you're able to see the pattern of the dish towel through the dough.
Brush half of the melted butter over the rolled out dough. The long side should be facing you. On the right side of the rectangle, leave a few inches space, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs top to bottom over the dough in a 6-inch thick line. Leave a 2-inch margin at the top and bottom of the strip.
Pile the apple filling on top of the breadcrumbs. Use a slotted spoon so the liquid stays in the bowl. Fold the 2-inch margin at the top and bottom of the dough over onto the filling then roll up the strudel from the short side with the help of the towel. Tuck the ends. Carefully transfer the Strudel to the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Brush with a little bit of melted butter.
Bake for about 50 minutes in the lower third of the oven, until lightly golden on top. Brush strudel with remaining melted butter every 20 min while in the oven. Let cool for 10 minutes then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Buon Appetito!


December 1, 2020

Our RecipeOfTheWeek is Donna Franca's Fritule!
Croatian fritters or “Fritule”  are miniature doughnuts that are traditional along the Dalmatian coast. They are a favorite Croatian Christmas treat, as well as being eaten during Carnival season and Lent, the period before Easter. Today, they make a great breakfast or coffee snack and are served in many areas of Croatia.

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• 1 package active dry yeast
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 8 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup raisins (dark)
• 1/2 cup walnuts (chopped)
• 1 apple (tart, grated)
• 2 teaspoons lemon zest
• 3 to 4 cups water (room-temperature)
• 3 cups oil (more or less as needed, for frying)
• Optional: powdered sugar for dusting

Grate the apple. Proof the yeast by dissolving it and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 cup of warm water (not over 110 F). When it foams, pour into a large bowl and add flour, salt, raisins, walnuts, grated apple, and zest, and mix well. Add 3 to 4 cups water, or as much as necessary to achieve a cake batter consistency. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
In a heavy-bottomed pan or Dutch oven, heat oil to 370 F. Carefully drop tablespoons of batter into the oil, being careful not to overcrowd. Fry until golden on the bottom. Turn over once to brown both sides.
Remove the fritules with a slotted spoon onto layers of paper towels to drain. Repeat until batter is finished. Sprinkle fritule with powdered sugar while still hot, if desired.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
Buon Appetito!


November 17, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is Donna Franca's Sicilian Swordfish!

Swordfish Sicilian Style is kind of a deceiving name for this dish, considering that swordfish is prepared so many different ways in Sicily. Dishes like Stuffed Swordfish Rolls and Swordfish coated in breadcrumbs and grilled are also very typically Sicilian just to name a couple. But, this tasty lemon, oil, garlic and white wine sauce just never fails remind us of Sicily!

You can prepare this on the grill also. Just cook the fish plain on the grill, and heat up a saute pan either on the side burner or the other side of the grill. When the fish is just about done transfer it to the pan, pour over the marinade, and cook for a few minutes until the sauce is reduced down.
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• 4 Swordfish steaks
• 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• juice of 3 lemons
• 1/4 cup white wine
• salt & pepper to taste

Combine oil, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, lemon juice and white wine in a small bowl.
Place swordfish in a lightly oiled baking dish and cook under broiler for around 5 minutes.
Flip swordfish and cook for 5 minutes.
Pour sauce over fish and cook for 5 more minutes.
Transfer swordfish steaks to serving plates, spoon marinade on top and serve.
Buon Appetito!


November 4, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is Donna Franca's Crostata Amalfitana cream and sour cherries!

For its unmistakable friability and for the fullness of flavor, this tart brings the summer to the tables of the Neapolitans, cheering them with the sweet and unique taste of spring black cherries.

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For the pastry:
• 125 gr butter
• 125 gr sugar
• 250 gr flour
• a pinch of salt
• a bit of lemon peel
• 2 egg yolks
• 1 spoon of baking powder
• 100 gr marmalade of cherries or cherries in syrup
• icing sugar to garnish

For custard:
• 4 yolks
• 40 grams of flour
• 100 grams of sugar
• 400 ml of whole milk
• vanillin or peel of half a lemon

Prepare the short pastry by placing the flour with the sugar and softened butter on a pastry board. Knead and add the salt, the grated lemon peel and the egg yolks and continue to knead until it becomes a well-mixed ball of dough. Put in the fridge to cool and meanwhile prepare the custard.
Put the lemon peel or vanillin in the milk put on the fire in a saucepan to heat or microwave.
Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with sugar and flour (or the same amount of potato starch if you prefer to make it lighter); add to this mixture the previously heated milk, continuing to mix with a wooden spoon. Put everything back on the fire and let it go until the cream is dense, smooth and without lumps. Let it cool well.
Now all that remains is to spread the 2 / 3 of shortcrust pastry on the bottom and sides of a low buttered cake tin or covered with parchment paper, filling it with the cream and adding spoonfuls of the sour cherries or cherries. With the remaining part of the shortcrust pastry we form small balls to be placed over the jam to cover the entire surface. Bake at 180 ° for 15 minutes, until the top of our tart is cooked. Dusting with plenty of powdered sugar will be the last step before serving it with a good liqueur.
Buon Appetito!



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